Luke 23:50-51 Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea and he was waiting for the kingdom of God.
This is the first hint we have that there were any members of the Sanhedrin besides Nicodemus who were open to Jesus. John records that Nicodemus joined Joseph in giving Jesus a proper burial. (John 19:38-42) My guess is that the two of them were not notified of the midnight emergency meeting that sentenced Jesus to death. They probably felt pretty isolated even within their own circle. That said, the thing that strikes me right now is that these were men who followed Jesus from afar. I don’t know whether today we would say they were saved, since they hadn’t openly professed Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but on the other hand they weren’t lost. We really don’t know who is in their boat even today. Some are actively antagonistic to the Gospel, but some are simply quiet, needing only the right challenge and opportunity to commit themselves to Christ. It is interesting that Matthew specifies that Joseph was wealthy. (Matthew 27:57) Churches that agonize over finances probably need to focus on bringing people to salvation. God always has provision! We aren’t to target people because of their bank balance, but we must remember that wealthy people are just as much in need of eternal salvation as anyone else. We tend to look at the material and think they wouldn’t be interested, when the benefits of life in Christ are something even Bill Gates couldn’t buy. Jesus died for everyone, and we need to let everyone know it.
This applies to this church in two ways. On the financial side, the church treasurer was pointing out last night that to make our budget balance, as we modified it in the business meeting last Sunday, she will have to increase projected offerings by a significant amount. I had said in the business meeting that growing churches approach budgets on the basis of what God wants them to do, rather than on the basis of what they can do with their limited finances. God is testing us on that! More importantly, we have been stagnating, or worse, in terms of numbers in recent years. That is a far bigger issue that finances, because we are talking about eternal souls here. We need to wake up to the “Josephs” that God has prepared around us and draw them into His family, as He desires. Cathy and I are aware of many people who admire us greatly but have never stepped foot in this church building. We need God’s wisdom and anointing to bring in the harvest! I personally believe that God is holding back on that because He wants the believers to reach out on their own, rather than depending on Cathy and me for everything, and especially evangelism. I think He is starting to move us in that direction, and it’s exciting!
Father, thank You indeed for Your plans for us. I can think of several “Josephs” myself, but You know who is ready. Help us reach out, actively and effectively, to bring in all whom You have prepared, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!